I just read an article on WebMD about the benefits of a diet high in fruits, nuts, and vegetables and low in fatty, processed foods (Not All Diets Pass the Heart-Healthy Test) and wondered "Why is this news?" Don't we all know this stuff by now?

Don't get me wrong, the article was great, but I am amazed that we Americans still don't get it. Our diet is chock full of fast food, sugar, fat. Why is that? The answer, in one word is convenience. We've grown accustomed to a life of hectic schedules and instant gratification. It takes too much effort to plan and cook healthy meals.

The list of excuses about why we can't take the time to eat healthy is a mile long.

* I worked all day and don't feel like cooking
* I'm late for an appointment, I'll just grab a hamburger and eat in the car
* I don't have time to eat lunch, I'll just grab something from the vending machine
* I don't have time for breakfast in the morning
* I don't have everything I need to make this recipe – let's just order a pizza
* I'm hungry now, I don't have time to cook
* The kids have soccer practice, we'll eat in the car on the way

Sound familiar? Don't worry, you're not alone. According to the USDA, Americans spent almost 7 times as much eating out in 2007 compared to 1977.. And restaurant.org reports that fast food sales skyrocketed from $42.8 billion in 1970 to $295.7 billion in 1995.

We all know fast food isn't good for us yet we continue to eat it. The next time you are tempted to order that pizza or swing through a fast food place on the way to soccer practice, stop and think about it first. What are you doing to your health? Better yet, what are you doing to build strong, healthy bodies for your children? Do you really not have the time to eat healthy food? Think about the growing rate of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

Here are some tips to help you build better eating habits:

* Create a weekly meal plan and shopping list. That way, you'll have the ingredients you need on hand and it won't be so stressful to cook after a day at the office.
* If you can't get away from work for lunch, find a restaurant that delivers and order a healthy salad or sandwich. Skip the chips and cookies and have an apple for dessert instead.
* Keep some healthy snacks around the house (and the office) to keep the hunger pangs away until you can get a healthy meal. I like a mix of raw almonds and dried cranberries for a quick snack.
* If you must go through the drive-up, choose something that isn't loaded with fat. Try a grilled chicken sandwich (hold the sauce) or a salad full of fresh veggies, but skip the fries.

None of this is rocket science – we all know how to eat healthy, we just don't make the time to do it. I guess I've answered my question and the answer is “It's not news, but we still need to hear it.”

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Tags: diet, exercise, food, healthy, lifestyle, living, nutrition

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